Marine Biology

, Volume 158, Issue 2, pp 257–273 | Cite as

Intra- and interannual variability in the larval fish assemblage off Gran Canaria (Canary Islands) over 2005–2007

  • M. Moyano
  • S. Hernández-León
Original Paper


The present study provides the longest and most intensive plankton and larval fish seasonal variability analysis in the Canary Islands and forms a basis for understanding life cycle scheduling and interactions among species, as well as the potential variability in transport processes of early life stages. Larval fish assemblages were studied weekly at Gran Canaria Island, Canary Islands, from January 2005 to June 2007, which represented two contrasting hydrological and biological periods. The former year was characterized by lower temperature and salinity that increased through 2006 and 2007. In contrast, chlorophyll concentration and mesozooplankton biomass decreased through the same period, especially when only the late winter bloom period was evaluated. However, ichthyoplankton abundance did not exhibit any clear pattern, as larger values were observed during 2006. The larval fish community of this oceanic island, located near the NW African upwelling, was composed of both neritic and oceanic taxa. Two families accounted for almost half of the collected larvae: Clupeidae (21.9%) and Myctophidae (20.5%). Although total larval concentration did not exhibit any seasonal peak linked to changes in zooplankton, the ichthyoplankton composition gradually changed during the year due to the high diversity and extended spawning periods of the fish species represented in samples. “Winter” and “summer” larval assemblages were identified, corresponding to the mixing and stratification periods of the water column, respectively. These assemblages were characterized by changes in the contribution of the most abundant annual taxa (Sardinella aurita, Cyclothone braueri, Ceratoscopelus spp. and Gobids) and by the presence of larvae of winter (Pagellus bogaraveo, Pomacentridae sp1) or summer spawners (Pomacentridae sp2, Trachinus draco, Arnoglossus thori, Tetraodontidae sp1). Upwelling filaments shed from the NW African coast reached the sampling area three times during this study, but changes in the local larval community were only detected in August 2005.


Canary Island Larval Fish Larval Abundance Canaries Archipelago Mesozooplankton Biomass 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank C. Schmoker, M. L. Nieves and all the colleagues of the Biological Oceanography Group that contributed to field work. Also, J. M. Rodríguez, M. A. Peck and three anonymous reviewers are thanked for valuable comments on the manuscript. This study was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science through the projects CONAFRICA (Cicyt CTM2004-02319) and LUCIFER (CTM2008-03538) and a FPU fellowship to M. M. (AP 2005-4742).


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© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratorio de Oceanografía BiológicaFacultad de Ciencias del Mar. Universidad de Las Palmas de G.CLas Palmas de Gran CanariaSpain

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